Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kids books coming in August

Not too many books make their debut in August, but here are a few to consider:
Picture Books:
Ducking for Apples by Lynne Berry, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Perfect book to get ready for the fall. The ducks have their eye on some apples, but need to figure out how to get to them. A gentle book with sweet illustrations.
Happy Birthday, Little Pookie
by Sandra Boynton
A new Sandra Boynton book is always a treat. This is a board book, of course.
Little Black Crow by Chris Raschka
A little boy wonders about a crow's life and is able to get reassurance about his own concerns. Chris Raschka is a Caldecott medalist.
In the Wild by David Elliott and Holly Meade
With clever poems and beautiful woodcuts, the authors introduce children to many animals in the wild.
It's A Book by Lane Smith
A monkey introduces a donkey to a real paper book - not one that needs to be plugged in, recharged, etc. Those of us who sell such wonderful items are very pleased to have the such an entertaining commentary on the state of publishing. But it's really a funny kid's book.

Middle Grade Fiction:

Scumble by Ingrid Law
A companion to her earlier book Savvy, this one is about Mibs's cousin, Ledge, and the trouble his savvy causes his whole family.
A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes
Eli notices that the world he lives in is just not the same -it's hotter than ever and something is wrong with the sky. Can Eli fix these huge problems??
The Cruisers by Walter Dean Myers
Zander and his friends are students at one of the best schools in Harlem, but their grades are slipping. How does their teacher's new assignment have the potential of changing everything?

Young Adult:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
We have been waiting and waiting for this third book in the Hunger Games trilogy. August 24th is the date.
Teen Reads:
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
This is the beginning of the Infernal Devices trilogy - a prequel to the Mortal Instruments series.
Girl Parts by John Cusick
"John Cusick takes a rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uber-connected world."

New in Paper:
Little Beauty by Anthony Browne
Mercy Watson Fights Crime by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo
Alabama Moon by Watt Key
Day of the Assassins by Johnny O'Brien
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kingsolver wins Orange Prize

Recently Barbara Kingsolver was presented with the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction for her book The Lacuna. The Orange Prize "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world". With the announcement, her publisher, HarperCollins, pushed ahead the release of the paperback edition of her novel and it is now available in our store and online.

New audio titles Week of July 19

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

NPR Road Trips Family Vacations by Noah Adams

Freeing the Breath by leslie Kaminoff

Inside of a Dog
by Alexandra Horowitz

For rent or for sale!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Let's Take the Long Way Home trailer

A book trailer for Gail Caldwell's new book, Let's Take the Long Way Home, is now up on YouTube. Many of us here who have read advance copies are championing this extraordinary memoir that goes on sale August 8. We're thrilled that it's been chosen as an Indie Next Pick for August. Gail will be here to talk about her book on September 14.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney

I don’t usually put much stock in blurbs on the back of the book, but those on the back of The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs caught my eye. They are two quotes, one from Anthony Burgess and the other is from Joan Didion and neither one is about The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney. They’re about the work of William Burroughs, except “Burroughs” is crossed out and “Marvin” and “Mooney” are written in. At first glance this is presumptuous at best and tacky at worst, but remember Burroughs pioneered the cut up, taking existing works, cutting them up and rearranging them into something completely different. Burroughs is the perfect author to “cut up” for pseudo-blurbs on the back.

The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney is filled with that kind of intelligent literary play, making cut ups of genres, formats, styles, quotes, and story-telling, while at the same time it seeks to break down the barriers between the imagination of the reader and the imagination expressed in the book. Metafiction has been exploring this barrier for decades, but Higgs takes it a step further, not only talking directly to the reader but demanding the reader talk back to the book; one point the narrator demands you “say out loud the words ‘I am not alone,’” giving the whole exercise a poignancy not usually found in this type of writing.

The novel is anchored by two stories dispersed throughout the work; one about a screenwriter (who may be Mooney) whose lover is a beautiful actress and the other about the death of Mooney’s (I’m assuming) mother. If pulled together into conventional short stories these would be exactly the kind of emotive and complex stories winning prizes and praise, but Higgs' dispersal of them gives them a reality and a power that conventional stories lack. When your mother dies, you don’t deal with it in one linear narrative, you deal with it over the course of the rest of your life as different happenings trigger memories. When a relationship comes to an end it almost never comes to an end in one moment or one sequence of events, but slowly, over time, with other things happening around it.

The experimental format might be off-putting to some, who were probably put off of House of Leaves, Raw Shark Text, and Important Artifacts and Personal Property, but there is more to it than typographical gymnastics. Our minds work like big disorganized anthologies of narrative with memories, knowledge, ideas, dreams, and wild guesses churning around the stuff that’s happening to us, and The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, and others like it, capture that lucid but idiosyncratic anthology of narrative that is human consciousness.

Despite the format, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney is very traditional in the best sense of the word. It’s a tender, funny, philosophical, beautifully written story of Marvin K. Mooney’s struggle to understand himself, of our struggle to understand him, and through those efforts, our struggle to understand ourselves.

New Audio Week of 7/12/10

New Audios on the shelf this week available for rent or sale:

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner read by Kimberly Farr

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

This Body of Death by Elizabeth George performed by John Lee

BBC The Spoken Word with Sylvia Plath Original broadcasts including one featuring Sylvia with Ted Hughs

Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges read by George Guidall

Check out our Summer Sale for audio bargains

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Reading, Finally

Even though I grew into some pretty perilous addictions (as my memoir, Whip Smart scrupulously details), my first drug of choice was reading. And now, years and years since I’ve touched any kind of mood altering chemical, I can still blessedly lapse into a reading blackout. Well, when my classes are prepped for, the avalanche of emails assuaged for the day, the dog walked, phone calls returned—oh wait, that actually almost never happens anymore. Now that I’m a grown up and have so many terrible grown up things to do, I am no longer afforded the luxury of time spent lost in reading (with the exception being the rare occasion I can convince myself that a desired book is “research”). As a kid, I used to read a novel a day in the summer, and shake my head at my parents, who were such slow readers. My mother would take weeks, sometimes months to plough through a book. Needless to say, age has altered my perspective.

This summer, however, I’ve been reading. I’ve been in a reading stupor, rising only to stagger around the block with the dog, and tinker for a few hours with my online class. After a year in which my own first book was published, and I worked harder and more than I have in any previous year of my life, I’ve allowed myself some reading time. I’m leaving town for August to slavishly work on the next book, so June and July, well, it’s watermelon, Coney Island, Cape Cod, and books. (And a reading at PSB on July 12, ahem.)

Here are some from my most recent binge (I’ll refrain from giving synopses, as this blog post is already getting long-winded):

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson (I succumbed in an airport bookstore. I see the appeal, but I don’t need any more narratives that include mutilated women in my consciousness. Why are there so very many??)

Borderlines – Caroline Kraus (My editor sent me this because she knows my novel is about an intimate friendship between two girls. Thus, this counts as research. Very engrossing research.)

Manic – Terri Cheney (More engrossing “research.”)

Hurry Down Sunshine – Michael Greenberg (Loved it. Reseach.)
Just Kids - Patti Smith (Haven’t finished it yet, but so far the only thing missing is humor.)

Darkness Visible -William Styron (Not as good as I’d hoped, but my expectations were too high. Also research.)

The Answer is Always Yes
– Monica Ferrell (Yes.)

Touched with Fire – Kay Redfield Jamison (Okay, this was real research. And I didn’t finish it.)

You Buy, They Donate

Dzanc Books, the Michigan based literary publisher, in an effort to encourage the purchase of books at independent bookstores has made the following announcement:

"For the month of July, we at Dzanc will donate a book to a school/library for each proof of purchase provided to us of a book bought at an independent bookstore. The book bought should be a work of literary fiction, though does not have to be a book published by Dzanc Books or any of our imprints. Simply send a copy of your receipt to the address below and Dzanc will donate a new book to a library/school of your choosing."

Steven Gillis
Dzanc Books
2702 Lillian
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Thank you Steven and all the folks at Dzanc Books!

Growing Up in North Cambridge

For several years, since 2006 to be precise, we have been selling a publication called Growing Up in North Cambridge. It is published, roughly, quarterly and is edited and produced by Stephen Surette. It is indeed a labor of love to assimilate and relate these stories and personal memories of Cambridge residents. Steve is always looking for new material, articles and letters. You may submit them to

The Summer 2010 issue is now on the shelves for the low low price of $10. You can't get more bang for your buck.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


A partially constructed luxury apartment building in Buenos Aires. The Chilean caretaker and his family. The coming new year. Ghosts . Cesar Aira’s brilliant little novel is the kind of book where you start underlining beautiful, enlightening, funny, philosophically intriguing sentences and end up with nearly the whole book underlined. Packed into this little novel are sophisticated discussions of the relationship between buildings, metaphors, and language; the differences between Argentinians and Chileans; shopping for a New Year's Eve feast; the experience of the sudden thought in the mind of the unthinking person; the use of ghosts as wine racks; class relations between the building builders and the building owners; and, the challenge and need of finding a “real man”. Yet Ghosts doesn’t feel crowded. The prose moves at the pace of a slightly-more-energetic-than-languid hot summer day daydream. The book itself is perfectly sized for sticking in your back pocket and going for a long walk. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer afternoon than wandering around Mt. Auburn Cemetery wading in and out of Ghosts.

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